Bill Drayton sees a world where 'everyone is a changemaker'
Bill Drayton founded Ashoka: Innovators for the Public, which now has put about 3,000 social entrepreneurs into the field all over the world, three decades ago. A college professor once described him as having "the determination of Job and the brains of a Nobel laureate." Says Drayton: "The life purpose of the true social entrepreneur is to change the world."
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Once people saw [the idea] "Oh, social entrepreneurs. I could be one," that's very powerful.Skip to next paragraph
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Everyone gets to be a player. Not just a few people.
We're going through an awkward transition, a big transition. But once everyone has the power to be a changemaker, they know it.
Now we have to do the next thing. We have to get over the awareness "tipping zone," which will come quickly. And I think we're just entering that zone now.
There are seven to 10 places in the world you've got to tip if you're going to tip the world: China, Indonesia, India, Brazil, US. Those five big countries completely dominate their respective continents. Also German-speaking Europe and Japan are highly influential. If you can tip those places, you can tip the world.
How do you get people to realize they can be a changemaker?
When a social entrepreneur sees that a pattern should be and could be changed, how do they get the system changed? Almost always they have to get local people in thousands of communities to say, "Oh, this is a good idea. This will make a difference for my community. I can do this."
When that happens, those people have become local changemakers. And they recruit people.
This is an area in which we're very different from business. We're not trying to capture a market. That's not the game here.
No social entrepreneur is going to run tens of thousands of schools. It's not going to happen. But if you get thousands of people and thousands of communities to take your idea and run with it, you can change tens of thousands of schools. You can do it all over the world.
Here's an analogy: Even though I was involved in the early civil rights movement, it never occurred to me, not for one millisecond, that there was anything wrong in the way our society treated women. I'm not proud of that fact. But it took the women's movement that came around and said, "This is crazy, this is unfair." And I read articles about it and began to say, "Yes!"
That's where we are with "everyone a changemaker." Many people get this, they just don't have words to describe it.
Education seems to be one of the areas to which changemaking is needed.
Seven hundred of the 3,000 Ashoka Fellows are focused on children and young people. There's a reason for that.
The old paradigm for success in growing up was to master information and rules. The new paradigm is you've got to be a changemaker and have mastered the skills of being a changemaker before you're 21.
What we have to do in the next five years is get 5 percent of the most influential schools, i.e., those that like setting the pace and are open: public schools, religious schools, charter schools, independent schools [to teach changemaking skills].
We've done evaluations of the Ashoka fellows for nine years now and at the end of five years over half have changed national policy, and three-quarters have changed the pattern of their field at the national level.
These people are really good at causing change in [education].
Can you have changemakers within governments?
Yes, of course. Yes, yes, yes, absolutely. They're called "intrapreneurs." They're very important in any institution that's on it's way to becoming an "everyone is a changemaker" institution. That's what you want.
Everyone has to have a highly developed skill that's based on empathy. This is really complicated. This is like learning a language. There's nothing easy about this. But children will work to do it because this is the key to their success as a part of society.
But we're not there. We're making it hard for kids to do this.